When Democrats won majorities in both chambers of Congress, they pointed to the falling approval ratings of the legislature as a mandate for change.  They have certainly provided it — albeit in the wrong direction.  Rasmussen’s latest polling shows the approval ratings for Congress have reached a new low, and a new achievement … single digits:

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category. …

The percentage of Democrats who give Congress positive ratings fell from 17% last month to 13% this month. The number of Democrats who give Congress a poor rating remained unchanged. Among Republicans, 8% give Congress good or excellent ratings, up just a point from last month. Sixty-five percent (65%) of GOP voters say Congress is doing a poor job, down a single point from last month.

Voters not affiliated with either party are the most critical of Congressional performance. Just 3% of those voters give Congress positive ratings, down from 6% last month. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe Congress is doing a poor job, up from 57% last month.

When Democrats first took control of Congress, its approval rating sat at 15%, which explained quite a bit about the electoral victory Democrats achieved.  They managed to push it up to 26% after four monthsin charge, but it has gone downhill ever since May 2007.  People used to joke about it hitting single digits, but the day has finally arrived under the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid.

Oddly, at the same time Democrats have maintained their lead on Rasmussen’s generic congressional ballot.   Last week’s poll shows a 12-point gap, slightly narrower than the 14-point gap in mid-June, but wider than the six-point gap in April.  The GOP has obviously not done a good job in explaining the lack of progress on issues and tying it to Democratic leadership, which seems like an opportunity missed — at least this far.

With energy on everyone’s mind, the Republicans have a chance to change that.  Democrats have decided to “wait for the wind” rather than do anything to ease the supply crisis that has driven prices at the pump out of sight.  If Republicans can take charge and implement a rational energy policy that includes robust domestic production — a position that has gained popularity with voters — they can both increase their standing and expose Reid and Pelosi as the true obstructionists.

Outside of the partisan considerations, having the people’s branch of government in such disrepute seems somewhat dangerous.  Congress needs to take action to restore confidence in the most representative branch of the federal government, which should include an end to corruption mechanisms such as pork.  We cannot afford to wait for the number to sink to zero before repairing its credibility.